If you have a dog or cat, there’s a good chance you’ll need to know how to get rid of fleas in the yard. Treating your yard for a flea infestation will help with flea control and keep the fleas from hopping onto your four-legged family member, which is likely to bring them into the house.
Even if your pet is treated with regular flea-prevention medication, some pests are bound to show up. So making your yard a flea-free zone is just one more defensive step you can take against unwanted adult fleas and larvae.
The first way to get rid of your flea infestation is to determine if you have any fleas in your yard.
Here’s a simple test from the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management program: Pull a pair of white socks on, up to your calves. Walk around your yard, especially in areas where your pet goes. If your yard has fleas, you’ll see them against your socks. Gross!
It’s time for flea control and maybe insecticide (always read the product label before you spray). And consider treating pet bedding and getting a flea collar to prevent a further recurrence. Here’s how rid your yard of an infestation of adult fleas and larvae.
1. Flea spray
One surefire way to treat your yard is with a pesticide or insecticide.
“Using a sprayer with insecticide on your yard can cut down on flea and insect populations,” says Dr. Philip Koehler, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in urban entomology.
He suggests one containing pyriproxyfen.
“In our experiments, we found that pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator, was effective in preventing fleas from developing into the adult stage for seven months,” Koehler says.
You probably don’t need to spray the whole yard with insecticide. Flea larvae won’t survive bright sunlight or areas with heavy foot traffic, according to a University of California IPM fact sheet. Instead, focus the spray on the areas where your pets play and rest.
2. Diatomaceous earth
Want to get rid of fleas the natural way? Diatomaceous earth, made from the fossils of tiny aquatic organisms, is a common substance used to get rid of fleas, flea eggs, bedbugs, spiders, and a whole host of common household insects.
When the substance comes in contact with insects, it kills them by drying out their exoskeleton. Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be applied dry or sprayed as a liquid, depending on the formulation you buy. Apply it on the ground or other flea-infested areas.
Nematodes, tiny, wormlike creatures that live under the soil, are another nontoxic natural remedy for killing fleas in infested areas. Nematodes kill fleas in their pupae, larval, and pre-adult stages, providing a natural method for keeping the pests under control, according to MotherEarthNews.com.
They are specifically sold for yard pest control and infestations; just mix them with water, and spray or sprinkle them on your lawn.
If you’re looking for a temporary, effective way to get rid of these pests, try giving your pet a bath with Dawn dish soap.
This flea treatment is a home remedy that essentially drowns fleas as you scrub and rinse. Or sprinkle over-the-counter boric acid lightly onto carpets and furniture, give it a good scrub, and then vacuum up flea eggs and the excess powder.
4. Critter control
Another key component in flea control: getting rid of wild critters.
“Fleas can hitch a ride on wild animals or wild cats,” Koehler says. “These wild animals should be prevented from using your yard and transporting more fleas there.”
Carefully assess your yard for any indication of wildlife—including rabbits, rats, squirrels, and raccoons. You may need to construct a fence, or shore up an existing barrier, to keep wild or stray animals off your property.
Other areas you may need to critter-proof are places they like to hide, such as under porches or decks.
Clear out piles of lumber or other debris that may be languishing in remote spots. Removing these will discourage flea infestation (and larger, flea-harboring wildlife). Take a look at your mulch, too.
“Replacing soiled mulch with fresh mulch may help eliminate flea-friendly microenvironments,” says Lynn Braband, a community educator with Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management program.
Common lore recommends using cedar chips to discourage fleas, because they don’t like the smell. But Koehler says that strictly speaking, any type of mulch will do.
“We found that cedar mulch did not have an effect on flea populations on pets,” he says.